Quincy Jones Won't Be Awarded $6.9 Million in Royalties on Behalf of Michael Jackson Estate
The verdict was reached today and overturns a decision made back in 2017.
On Tuesday, May 5, an appellate court ruled the Michael Jackson estate no longer has to pay $6.9 million in royalties to Quincy Jones.
According to a Varietyreport, a three-judge panel of the 2nd Appellate Court overturned the majority of a 2017 verdict. The panel found that the trial judge “had allowed the jury to misinterpret Jones’ contract.”
The report noted Jones’ attorney had argued the producer was rightfully entitled to some $30 in royalties and income from the This Is It film, two Cirque Du Soleil shows, and additional revenue streams that came after Jackson’s death nearly 11 years ago. Following a two-week trial, Jones was awarded $9.4 million.
Despite the robust amount shared above, the appeals court took most of it back on Tuesday, May 5. The court noted Judge Michael L. Stern had left the aforementioned contract to the jurors who made the ultimate decision rather than interpreting it himself.
Directly following Jackson’s death, Variety reports, “his estate negotiated an increased share of profits through a joint venture with Sony, going from 50% to two-thirds.” Yet, Jones’ attorneys mentioned at trial he was entitled under his producer contract to a “proportional increase” in royalties. The jury agreed and moved forward to grant Jones $5.3 million in profits. Ultimately, the appeals court ruled against Jones’ producer contracts receiving an increase.
On behalf of a unanimous panel, Justice Judith Ashmann-Garret wrote: "The only compensation Jones was entitled to receive was royalties from record sales on remixes, and the evidence indicates he received them." He also added, "If he wanted remixing fees, he had to negotiate them in separate agreements."
Howard Weitzman, a representative of the Jackson estate shared the following in a statement:
“Quincy Jones was the last person we thought would try to take advantage of Michael Jackson by filing a lawsuit three years after he died asking for tens of millions of dollars he wasn’t entitled to. We knew the verdict was wrong when we heard it, and the court of appeal has completely vindicated us. From the beginning this was an attempt to take advantage of Michael knowing he wasn’t here to defend himself.”
$2.6 million was left in place to be awarded to Jones. This amount was derived from unpaid license fees from This Is It alongside additional fees and interest, per Variety. “It’s gratifying that in this case the court in an overwhelmingly favorable and just decision, recognizes that Michael Jackson was both an enormous talent and an extremely fair business executive,” said John Branca, co-executor of the estate, on today’s ruling.